Acne is a common skin condition everybody goes through. We tried so many ways to get rid of acne or clear it (from lifestyle changes, medications, sleeping patterns, setting a skin care routine). But you may not be seeing results. How do we really get clear skin with all of these steps or lifestyle tips? What does your lifestyle habit look like?
Acne is not limited to affecting the face - many people suffer from painful, uncomfortable acne spots on their backs, necks and chests too. In fact acne can affect people anywhere on the body other than the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
It wasn’t until six years after suffering from acne that I realized I needed to do more than wash my face to cure it. There’s no doubt that it takes hard work and lots of time to get through it, but in the end, it’s worth it. It doesn’t only take topical skincare products to get clear skin, but plenty of lifestyle changes, too.
Lifestyle Changes For Clear Skin
We want our acne gone as soon as possible and it's possible to achieve clear and acne-free skin by starting with some lifestyle changes.
Here are a few expert tips on how we can get clear skin:
- Exfoliate regularly
- Practice regular exercise
- Use the right face wash
- Avoid high alcohol toners
- Be mindful of your diet and gut health
- Use sunscreen daily
- Manage stress
- Don’t pick your skin
- Get enough sleep
1. Exfoliate Regularly
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the outer layers of the skin. It can be beneficial for removing dry or dull skin, increasing blood circulation, and brightening and improving your skin’s appearance. As we age, we lose the ability to turnover skin cells as rapidly which can lead to more acne, clogged pores, and hyperpigmentation.
Regularly exfoliating helps purge the skin of impurities on a regular basis. Plus, it helps clean off dead skin cells that may end up blocking pores and can make your skin look dull. Regularly removing dead skin cells through exfoliation will help your skin feel smooth and look clear.
2. Practice Regular Exercise
Another way to get clear skin is doing your exercise regularly. One thing that is important when trying to get rid of acne is fitness and something that needs to be incorporated regularly in your lifestyle.
Fitness keeps you healthy and relieves stress, which is a significant cause of acne. Getting in a twenty-minute brisk walk every day can help you achieve clear skin. Exercise also helps many other health issues like heart diseases and diabetes. Just remember to clean your skin after a vigorous workout so the sweat or pollution doesn’t clog pores.
Exercise makes you feel healthier and more energetic. So go ahead, take that aerobics class or go for that walk. You will feel better and healthier for it.
“Exercise helps reduce stress, an acne-causing factor, and increases blood flow, which helps oxygenate cells and boost their natural detox process,” says Tata Harper.
3. Use The Right Face Wash
Fight the urge to use the strongest cleanser you can find, and don't try to use detergents to wash your face. Instead, use a mild cleanser specifically designed for acne-prone skin. If your skin feels pretty tight or experiences dryness after washing, then the cleanser may be too stripping for your skin. Does your lifestyle habit include this step?
4. Avoid High Alcohol Toners
Skin-stripping high-alcohol toners are a bad idea for most people, especially those susceptible to acne. You can ese a toner with glycolic acid or salicylic acid in the morning and evening after cleansing to help exfoliate skin and prevent pores from being clogged. Avoid over using a toner with these acids if your skin starts to feel sensitive.5. Be Mindful of your Diet and Gut
As mentioned earlier, food can be a cause for skin conditions like acne. Although some opt to use topical products such as benzoyl peroxide to address acne problems, your gut health and what you eat has an impact of how clear your skin is.
Diet has a major impact on acne. It is very vital to consume a well rounded diet without too many processed sugars and drink plenty of water. Foods that contain big amounts of dairy and sugar should be avoided, as they cause breakouts. For some people, Gluten, greasy foods, and alcohol can also cause bad reactions to their gut and it shows in the skin.
It’s best not to indulge in too many desserts and make a diet plan that includes foods with an ample quantity of fatty acids, greens, fiber and antioxidants.
Currently we can't recommend any specifics since diet can be very different for each person and certain people have food allergies or intolerances they may not be aware of.
Others may need to avoid acidic foods as it may cause acid reflux, while some may find it helps their gut. So it's best to take note of how you feel after eating certain foods to determine if it is having a negative impact on your gut health.
Currently the only studies that concretely tie in diet with acne are high glycemic foods - such as simple carbs or refined carbs and sugars.
You can also incorporate probiotics in your diet too either with a supplement, or by consuming fermented foods to encourage a healthy gut flora.
6. Use Sunscreen Daily
Our skin and bodes need a daily dose of Vitamin D as well, but we also have to remember to put on sunscreen before facing the sun as our skin needs a good protection from the harmful UV rays that cause damage to skin.
If you have dark spots or acne scars, the extra sun exposure can make acne scars appear darker and new acne may have a higher chance of leaving a dark mark afterwards. Protect against the sun by using an oil-free sunscreen with spf 30 and above.
If you have too much sun exposure or get a sunburn, it causes deep damage to the skin that will show up as you get older. You can gain sun spots, hyperpigmentation, & acne could get more inflamed. Plus, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen works effectively against skin aging, which is an added bonus!
7. Manage Stress
Stress is inevitable. But unfortunately, chronic levels of stress isn't suitable for a healthy life or clear skin. Stress does not literally cause acne but it can make the acne condition worse because when stressed the body is proven to produce more oil-stimulating hormones.
We all get stressed at some point in our lives and nobody’s exempted from it. But managing stress is one of the lifestyle changes or lifestyle habits we need to incorporate if we want to achieve clear skin.
Stress puts your body in that fight-or-flight state, which causes the brain to release more cortisol hormones, causing acne to flare up. If you have a busy and stressful lifestyle, make sure you still squeeze in a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise activities to help in de-stressing.
“The most important thing you can do in terms of preventing or minimizing acne is to decrease stress in your life,” says dermatologist Ivy Lee, MD, of Pasadena Premier Dermatology in California.
8. Don’t Pick Your Skin
Picking your skin can only worsen your acne instead of clearing them up. It may also increase the chances of leaving acne scars.
As tempting as it sounds, popping a pimple is one of the worst things you can do if you want to have clear skin (I know,– it’s hard to resist!!) It can lead to acne scarring, and actually can force your pore to get clogged even deeper down.
3 Not to scare you and not likely to happen, but popping pimples in an area known as the “triangle of death” (which refers to the area from the top of your nose reaching to a point on either side of your lips). Dr. Sandra Lee mentions that if inflammation from a pimple spreads to the inner part of the brain, there’s potential for blindness and stroke.
9. Get Enough Sleep
Getting more sleep can help reduce stress and give your skin time to heal. Get plenty of sleep each night and try to manage the stress in your life by practicing meditation, going to yoga classes or through simple relaxation techniques.
Sleep is another significant factor in skin condition. When you get about 7-9 hours a night, it makes the skin appear brighter and healthier and minimizes inflammation of breakouts. Getting to bed early will also reduce stress and benefit overall health. Another thing you can do to prevent acne and breakouts is to change your pillowcase frequently. Pillowcases hold a large number of bacteria from hair, face, and sweat. Changing it every 3-5 days and washing your pillow every 6 months can protect your face from bacteria and excess oil.
There are other lifestyle tips on how you can manage to have clear skin but I’ll have to end up with these in mind.
1 "9 Steps To Improving Acne-Prone Skin" from Nuffield Health; https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/article/9-steps-to-improving-acne-prone-skin
2 "Popping A Pimple In The Triangle Of Death Could Kill You" by Anna Duff from New York Post; https://nypost.com/2018/08/14/popping-a-pimple-in-the-triangle-of-death-could-kill-you/
3 "Lifestyle Changes To Tame Acne" by Diana Levey from Web MD; https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/acne-lifestyle-changes